Playing some more funky music
Mingo’s Rob Parissi returning for benefit concert Aug. 12 at Mingo Knights of Columbus Hall
MINGO JUNCTION — Mingo’s Rob Parissi will be coming home this summer to play some more of that funky music.
And like his other local concerts in recent years, the proceeds will benefit the Robert Parissi Scholarship Endowment that awards scholarships to Indian Creek students.
“I’m coming back to do another concert at the Mingo K of C Aug. 12,” said Parissi, who lives in Florida with his wife, Ilona.
“It will be another Hoodstock, but not with the original Wild Cherry,” he added, referring to two previous local concerts. The initial one reuniting him with the band for the first time in 36 years was in August 2014 at the Mingo Knights of Columbus Hall, a sold-out event.
The second one was in August 2015 at the Capitol Theater in downtown Wheeling, a farewell performance.
The author of the all-time favorite hit “Play That Funky Music” said the Hoodstock 2017 concert will begin at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $18.50, available online at http://tickets.national-acts.com/event/hoodstock-2017.
Parissi said he thought he was retired, content to be “a professional at doing nothing.”
“We’re still in the same two homes between Tampa and St. Petersburg, and honestly, I purposely unplugged my recording gear so that I wouldn’t be tempted to do anything but just retire, and now I know why David Letterman looks like Santa, as I, too, sometimes go a week without shaving until we may either go over to the beach home to frequent restaurants or Sunday brunch here in Tampa,” he said, noting the encouragement and insistence of friends for him to perform trumped attempts at full-time retirement.
“It was my dear old friend Joe Macre, who called me and said, ‘Look, just come back here, plug in, and Bob Pizzoferrato and I will handle everything. We don’t want you to have to do anything,’ and I said, ‘But do I still have to play and sing?’ They said, ‘Yes, play and sing, you have to do that,’ to which my wife spoke up and said, ‘Throw in DiCarlo’s Pizza, and I’ll come, too,'” Parissi said in explaining how the concert plans took root and what it will offer.
“We’re also going to have Spinning Jenny and U.S. Kids, then when it’s time, we all join together, the Spinning Jenny beautiful, talented young ladies transform into the Cherry Sisters, and along with Robert “Chic” DiCiccio and Joe Macre, we do all the Wild Cherry songs, and a few other nice covers we all grew up loving,” Parissi said.
“Opening the show for a few songs will be Albvs, who are a duo of my nephew Ralph Parissi Jr. and Joey Albus. They have some very nice songs, and I wanted the crowd to hear them,” he said.
Parissi said ever since the 2015 concert, Bob Pizzoferrato, his best friend and best man at his wedding “told me he was not going to let me retire, so between him and Joe Macre, and a few other great friends calling and waking me up from afternoon naps while trying to retire, I’m baaaaaack.”
Pizzoferrato of U.S. Kids joined Wild Cherry in 1984. Macre and Parissi once played in a band called Universal Joint.
There will be a cash bar and food available at the concert, according to Parissi. “We’ll have hoodies, coffee mugs and DVDs for sale at the concert, and as always, all proceeds go into our nonprofit scholarship fund for Indian Creek,” he said.
The Robert Parissi Scholarship Endowment provides scholarships for college-bound music or art students at Indian Creek High School. Parissi is a 1968 graduate of Mingo High School.
“I think we’ve given at least six graduating-picked students opportunities at this point, and we’re about to pick two more for this year,” he said. “In the process, we’ve also been able to buy the band a new school field banner. We’re going to try to do even more as time passes here,” he added.
“I’m doing this primarily to keep on raising money for our scholarship endowment for Indian Creek High School, which I have to give a lot of credit and thanks to my wife, Ilona, as she supports me helping them, as well as my hometown,” Parissi said.
“She’s originally from Hamburg, Germany, but loves it back home, as well as my family. But also in the mix, I truly love my friends, and no matter even if we’ve been in other bands that were fierce competition to each other, we’ve always loved and respected each other, and one thing people should know is that, regarding all of these things we do, everyone — sound, lights, musicians, stage hands — they all come and donate their talent and time to help me. In this business, that’s very rare, and it always ends up getting me emotional at one point or another, as I couldn’t express how much I love and appreciate them, no matter how I try,” Parissi said.
The Mingo Knights of Columbus Hall is about a half mile from where Parissi used to live — the neighborhood where it all began for Wild Cherry, where the band rehearsed at his parents’ home.
“So it’s like being back in the neighborhood, only the neighbors don’t call the cops on us anymore for rehearsing late at night,” he quipped.
“Ticket sales will be $18.50, as I’ve only charged $15 every show, but the online agencies have to have a handling fee, thus the extra $3.50,” Parissi said. “I’ve known all too well the economic situation back there and have tried to do as much as my wife and I can to help, as they’ve done nothing but support me all my life.”
Parissi formed the band Wild Cherry a couple years after graduating from high school and in 1976 wrote “Play That Funky Music,” which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B and pop charts, while the single and Wild Cherry’s self-titled debut obtained platinum certification. Wild Cherry was named Best Pop Group of the Year by Billboard, receiving an American Music Award for Top R&B Single of the Year, and even earning a pair of Grammy nominations for Best New Vocal Group and Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo.
Wild Cherry has a display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.
In August 2013, Parissi was honored at a banquet at the Mingo Knights of Columbus, an event organized by the Mingo Business Association as part of Mingo Junction Community Days. The keynote speaker was Terry Stewart, who served as president and chief operating officer of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum from 1999 through 2012.
Parissi was honored with McLister Avenue bearing the honorary name of Rob Parissi Boulevard.
The opportunity to perform for a local audience again is something to savor and appreciate, according to Parissi.
“For me, just coming home and seeing a room full of happy people makes me happy,” Parissi said of his enjoyment being with friends on stage and seeing family, both relatives and musical.
Parissi said he likes traveling on the street “renamed after me a few years ago, and the food. We have our favorites, and I always go home needing to lose weight.”
“Play That Funky Music” definitely will be a song concert-goers will hear at the Aug. 12 performance.
“You have to realize that, for more than 40 years now, I cannot get out alive of anyplace I’m playing without playing that song, so yes, indeed, everyone will hear it.”
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)